Case Study: Head of Strategy and Planning

Lucie paired her interests in creative and strategic applications with an educational background in psychology to develop a career that worked to the best of her strengths.

Through networking, interning and dedication Lucie secured her role as Head of Planning and Strategy for creative start-up agency Lady Geek.

View Lucie Sarif's profile on LinkedIn


What attracted you to a career in Marketing?

My mind is part creative part strategic. I could never be a creative director or a business analyst, so a strategy role in a creative industry seemed like the perfect balance that played to my strengths.

Tell us about your route into Marketing?

My background is Psychology as I am fascinated by the patterns and trends of human behaviour. I knew I didn’t want to be a Psychologist, as a pathway down academia and pure research isn’t my thing. Marketing is about how people respond and engage with brands and so it seemed to be a better fit for me.

Once I realised this, I used my network of friends and family to get as much advice as I could from people within the industry.

I started as an intern and by showing my dedication, passion and determination I have worked my way up to where I am now.

Briefly talk us through a typical day as in your current job

No day is the same in a start-up agency and everyone is responsible for mucking in. We all have our area of expertise, but that doesn’t stop you from being tea maker, team tweeter or post office runner.

I try to have a daily catch up with my team, usually in the morning, keeping it structured around everyone’s – focus, feedback update for the week – catch ups are necessary but there is nothing worse than a time thief that jabbers on about nothing of relevance.

The rest of the day is made up of: client meetings – which I try to have either first or last thing so not to break up my day; writing up a strategic audit for a client; brainstorming creative executions for a project; getting an empathy workshop together by liaising with our team of empathy experts including our hostage negotiator and body language expert; pitching coverage opportunities to key journalists; and discovering interesting content to post across our channels.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them?

Facing and addressing my fears, such as public speaking. When you do this, the sense of achievement feels so much better because you have done something you thought you could never do. I am proud to say I have spoken on the main stage at the O2 for Telefonica’s Campus Party 2013 as well as being a guest on BBC London Radio.

Working with small budgets – in a start-up budgets are tight, however, they allow you to be more creative and focused on the resource you have, to still deliver your targets.

What would you describe as your biggest personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career?

  • I always try to look back at how I could have done something better – you learn more from the things that go wrong than when things go right.
  • Active listening – I try to be aware of how much of the talking I am doing when in conversation – if you are doing 80% of the talking then you are not listening to the needs or the person you are engaging with.
  • Empathising with those I dislike – we naturally empathise with the people we like, and struggle with those we don’t. In business you may have to work with/for people you do not get along with, however, if you are still able to empathise with them (being aware of their perspective) then it gives you more clout and confidence when dealing with them.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career what would it be?

Always request feedback! The more feedback you receive – whether it’s positive or negative – and the more regularly you listen to it, the more you will develop and be successful in the future.